We're not in Salem anymore, Toto
Updated: 6 days ago
I struggled with this initially. I reacted badly, it scared me. To know someone in my community was actively informing other people that I was a ‘witch’ and saying that they had evidence...? Well, that was a bit much.
I just only recently freed myself of a bully that made my life hell for three years. I'm not really interested in another one.
I talked to some trusted confidants about this, sorted it out a bit and let it settle for a while.
Witch-hunting isn’t really a thing anymore and it’s kinda illegal actually (more on that later.) At the same time I did joke about it last year, with a friend. I remember saying that because of all the work I do, all my events, my blogs, helping the community navigate between western and natural medicine, the fact that I speak about mental health and the mind-body connection in the context of cutting edge research, that I speak of our healing journey in terms of Archetypes, it was only a matter of time before someone called me a witch. I was mostly joking though... throwing back to that time in my childhood where a certain family wouldn’t let their kids come over - because they believed we ‘worshiped the devil.’ Back in the 80s, to live on the Winkler side, (ie. Mennonite side) and go to church on the Morden side, (not so Mennonite,) was paramount to devil worship to some people apparently. Lol. Well, I guess it’s not actually that funny. But it was the reality I grew up in. And to be fair, that has changed here, I do believe that the "witch-hunters" here are a very small minority these days.
And yes, I am very spiritual. I have travelled the world learning about different religions and spiritualities. In fact, the principals that all of them have in common, are the foundation of a lot of my work. I particularly the ones that line up with basic universal laws that Newton and Einstein spoke about, and the ones that all the mind-body research and the field of Psychoneuroimmunology, have been proving.
So here’s the thing with this though. I do have a friend that self-identifies as a witch, but like the real authentic kind, not the kind in Disney movies. She’s my friend, I love her a lot, we have a lot in common and agree on so much and we collaborate on a group called 'unmothered.' But that doesn’t mean I identify the same way she does. I collaborate and am friends with medical doctors and nurses, does that make me a medical doctor? See where I am going with this? I also did some work, and remained friends for a decade, with members of the Bin Laden family. I adored them and saw as much love between them as I did my massive mennonite family here – does that make me a Muslim or a terrorist? I remember many nights sharing stories and life and friendship in pubs in Toronto with the gay guys I worked with and the lesbians that were friends. I was friends in women that I eventually found out were also escorts. I also hung out and made music with a lot of pot smoking straight musicians, lol. Did I need to identify with any of them to love them and care about them? My ex-husband and I once spent Christmas with Dany Heatley and his parents, we went to some Stanely Cup games, did that make me an NHL star? I have studied Tantra, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc, etc, with some of my spiritual teachers across the world. Does that mean I identify with them? No, it doesn’t. I was raised as one but I do not identify as a Christian either. However, I was always a big fan of the Jesus that hung out with thieves and prostitutes and gypies and all the people that were too wounded to survive in normal society. I always wanted to be like him. If I took anything from Christianity and made it mine, it was him and his love. So I made sure I was the same. And I’ve had a fascinating and full life because of that attitude.
The problem with this kind of defamatory claim is the context.
Here’s the context: we live in a rather religious, faith-based community. I operate my business here. That means that to say exactly those words here, means something, the intent is to create fear and alienate.
And what about all the companies, organizations, towns and school divisions here, that have hired me to educate and influence their employees, clients, customers, residents and students? It's a BIG list at this point. How are they going to feel about someone telling everyone around that they hired an evil witch? What about all the medical and health practitioners and business owners that participated in my collaborative events. Most of them are Christians, most of them became my friends and we really all love each other and have a vision for this town.
It’s a ridiculous situation, right? No. It’s not, actually, what it is, is sad. I feel for this person. No person that sends such defamatory and derogatory intent out into the world is without a deep wound and deep pain.
Here’s the other thing...
Out of curiosity, I sent the exact words being said about me to a friend of mine, who is a civil lawyer, for a perspective. I asked him if it was defamation. I was curious. No intention to do anything about.
He said this:
“To be defamation, the utterance has to have the effect to discredit or lower the esteem of the subject, it has to be untrue and publicized to someone other than the subject. Saying you self identify as a witch might qualify, again depending on the context. One would think that in a religious conservative environment, it would be interpreted as a demeaning comment…. So unless you do self identify as a witch, it appears to meet the criteria of defamation.”
To be extra clear, I have no intent to sue, but I wanted to know what it really was. I didn't understand how anyone even says things like this anymore. Obviously this person is hurting and I’d rather help them somehow than hurt them further.
Regardless, I wanted to post this for a few reasons. One is because I have a lot of Christian friends and family - and I want them to be able to let some of their more ‘zealous’ Christian friends know that this isn’t cool anymore - we all need to start calling them on this $hit. We’re not in Salem anymore, Toto. This isn't freedom of speech folks, it's not legal to do this. And Two, I don't want any young women who are inspired by me and want to do similar work to be discouraged by others in the community. Words like the ones said about me mean something here, in this community. They would not have the same impact in other places.
So for the record, I do not identify as any of these things mentioned above. I always seek to understand them, I have a deep need to understand as much as I possibly can and integrate it all. I find what is good and helpful in everything and then put some tools in my tool belt. I tend to make all the friends along the way. And I'll joke about that Tantra and being a Buddhist on a mountain sometimes or about witchy or Hindu things, I've called myself part-christian and part-buddhist for years. I'll always be this way. And for another record, I have loved every single person mentioned above that I have had a privilege of knowing, that was an authentic version of whatever they identified with or as. Authenticity gets me every time. For myself, I don't identify with much at all, because if I do I won't be able to keep standing in the middle of it all, mediate, translate, integrate and facilitate collaboration if I take a side. I am not me then. I can't be me then. If you don't like that, then that's totally fine. You want to tell people you don't like me? Sure, whatever man. Have at it. People don't get to where I am without some people not liking them. I'm good with that. But watch the outright defamation, it helps no one.
I will end with this:
To those of you out there that are afraid of me for some reason and would prefer to try to make an attempt to tear down all that I have spent that last few years building, (taking the community I have built down with it,) instead of coming to me for a conversation - I’ve already forgiven you, you're hurting, that much I know for sure. I'd even have a chat with you if you'd like to call me and ask some questions.
But also. If you don't want to talk to me about this, then please stop. I don't need the headache. You have been misinformed and you are misinforming.
To the rest of you, that know who I am, that hear what I say and support my work to help people heal in whatever way is going to work for them, thank you.
To those of you that are like my friend who identifies as a witch, and, like her, you'll also willingly sit at the bar or in the coffee shop or with whomever needs someone to talk to that day, no matter who they are or how they identify, and hear them and not judge them, I love you as well. So much. Carry on.